To be a snowman is to live a life of extreme impermanence. During the coldest parts of the season, these snowy beings take shape on lawns across the world, but by the spring, they’re all but forgotten. However, one snowperson avoided this date with oblivion by entering the history books as the tallest snowman, or rather snowwoman, ever made. Built with 13 million pounds of snow in 2008 in Bethel, Maine, the 122-foot-tall snowwoman was named Olympia in honor of the state’s U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe. “I have to say I’ve joked that it’s just my luck I’d have a world record-breaking monument named after me and it will be gone by summer,” Snowe said at the time.
Bethel residents needed to greatly exaggerate a snowperson’s usually quaint features to complete their creation. In this case, Olympia’s smile was made from car tires, each of her arms was a 25-foot-long spruce tree, and her red stocking cap was 20 feet in diameter and hand-knit by middle school students. Oh, and those lovely eyelashes? Alpine skis.
Bethel previously earned the title of world’s tallest snowman when the town constructed the 113-foot-tall Angus (named after then-governor of Maine Angus King) in 1999. But Olympia surpassed her forebear, and still holds the Guinness record for the world’s tallest snowperson at the time of writing. However, the record may not hold for long. In 2020, a snowman in Austria surpassed Olympia’s height — though its extremely tall stovepipe hat did a lot of the work, and the structure has yet to be officially recognized on the Guinness website. Future challengers to Olympia’s crown may one day require the town of Bethel to again gather and build a snowperson to remember.
The Hôtel de Glace, or Ice Hotel, first built in 2001, lasts for only three months out of the year (January through March) when the temperatures in Quebec, Canada, are at their coldest. Every year, a team of about 50 people — both workers and sculptors — labors for six weeks to (re)build the snowy abode in a suburb of Quebec City called Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier. The Ice Hotel isn’t just some roadside igloo — the structure takes 500 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow to complete its usual 44 rooms (though during the COVID-19 pandemic the hotel was much smaller). The hotel costs hundreds of dollars per person per night, and it’s not exactly comfortable. Because the structure is made entirely of snow and ice, the interior is kept at a frigid 25 degrees Fahrenheit (the bathrooms, however, are heated). Luckily, you don’t necessarily have to shell out that much cash just to experience the hotel, as guided tours are also available.